What are dental implants?
A dental implant is a bionic tooth root that is inserted into the jaw bone in the area of a ‘missing’ tooth. A crown is subsequently attached to that implanted ‘root’ and acts in exactly the same way a crown attached to a natural tooth does . The entire combined structure, if kept clean and plaque free, like any other tooth, should be as healthy, functional and aesthetic as a natural tooth can be.
Titanium implants were first developed in Sweden under a very strict research protocol before being released for use on the general public in the early 1980s. In the last thirty years, after continuous research and experimentation, they have undergone technique and design improvements that have allowed them to be used in a great variety of situations . The use of dental implants has largely supplanted removable partial or full dentures almost entirely. Implants will continue to be used until we start to be able to ‘grow new natural human teeth’ or we stop losing them due to disease.
Why dental implants?
It has always been essential that a very strict surgical protocol is adhered to and that only reputable very high quality dental implants are used (which certainly do not come cheap).
If a tooth is unsaveable and needs to be removed, very often nowadays an implant can be placed at the same visit immediately following the extraction. There are even times when a temporary crown can also be fitted on that same visit … so the patient is never without a tooth.
The procedure initially involves careful assessment and measurements. X-rays are take , and if necessary CT scans and/or study models (casts).
The procedure is a surgical one, so the patient is draped and surgical staff are gowned. But this is not real major surgery and is usually carried out with local anaesthesia, sometimes with added sedation. The procedure should be totally painless and usually the patient can even return to work , if he or she wants or needs to, immediately afterwards. Moreover there is rarely any significant post-operative discomfort.
Cost of dental implants
Cost of treatment is usually split between the surgical procedure that includes the implant itself, the surgery, sedation and placement of temporary connector and crown (if appropriate) and the placement of the final connector and ‘permanent’ crown about three months later.